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Arguing with Myself: TJ Otzelberger and Jamie Pollard

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What’s bothering Sean about the Otzelberger hire?

NCAA Basketball: Mountain West Conference Tournament- Utah St vs UNLV Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

After TJ Otzelberger was hired to be the next Men’s Basketball Coach at Iowa State, reactions differed from positive, to melancholy, to negative. The fan base couldn’t decide what to think about a guy with a mixed-bag record as a head coach, but who had experience at this university. There’s no doubt that Otz wants to be at Iowa State and that he can be a great fit, but how was he hired in the first place? How long did Jamie Pollard have Otz in mind and who else, if anyone at all, did he contact before hiring TJ? As Loyola Chicago coach Porter Moser was announced this week to replace Lon Kruger at Oklahoma, questions arise about the process in place for Pollard to hire the best candidate, and if Otz really is that guy. I asked the smartest person I know, myself, about TJ and hiring process.

Sean: Alright where’s the beef this time? We already argued about if Steve Prohm was a good coach last time. What can you possibly nitpick about a guy who hasn’t coached a game yet?

Also Sean‘s Sentiment (Ass): Listen, pal. This isn’t about TJ’s coaching ability. This is about the process that led to his hiring. So for all you Karen’s in the comments that want to get after me about a guy who hasn’t started yet, chill out. This isn’t a reflection on Otz, it’s more about Pollard.

Sean: Oh, so you hate the guy that hired Matt Campbell?

Ass: No, I hate that Pollard seemingly had TJ pegged as the guy weeks before Prohm was even fired. He even said so himself there was no formal search process and that Otz was the only guy he contacted! Why wouldn’t you at least interview other people? Also, did he film those two goofy-ass announcement videos on the same day? It looks like he’s wearing the same shirt in both.

Sean: Because Otz is the best fit. He’s been at the university for multiple extended periods of time and has seen what it takes to be successful in Ames. The guy is an ace recruiter and brought some of the greatest players in school history to Ames. Also, he totally made the announcement on the same day.

Ass: Yes, Otz is a familiar face, but what are we sure that’s what we need right now? Why wouldn’t Pollard call anyone else? If the entire process was “Hey Otz, Steve is tanking this program, do you want in?” Then that’s a major problem. Pollard owes the university a proper vetting process and a thorough look into who is available. This is the equivalent of your teacher announcing a group project and then you making eye contact with your friend. WHY NOT ASK THE SMART GIRL WHO WILL GUARANTEE YOU AN A???

Sean: Don’t drag your sad group project stories into this.

Ass: C’s get degrees, son.

Sean: Whatever. There’s no guarantee that Porter Moser AKA the Smart Girl would get us an A anyways. The guy has been relevant for what, 6 years? He has a .548 winning percentage. He’s the newest fad, not a guy with staying power. There is absolutely no reason to think he could be successful here.

Ass: And Otz’s record indicates he should be? Come on. Pollard literally hired one of his good friends and didn’t offer a valid explanation besides “We needed to act quickly.” Why did we need to act so fast? What is the difference between waiting another week or not? That’s an absurd line of thought. Also, Roy Williams is now technically available.

Sean: We aren’t getting Roy Williams.

Ass: But he IS technically available.

Sean: *sigh* Yes, he is. Pollard doesn’t have to do anything he doesn’t want to. He’s the AD. It’s his job to find the guy who is the best fit. Otz is that guy.

Ass: Actually, Fred is probably that guy, but sure. Did he even call Fred? He should’ve!

Sean: No way he called Fred, although I’m sure they’ve spoken about this at some point. It’s well-known Pollard and Fred hated each other. I really doubt that would’ve ever happened.

Ass: True. He should’ve talked to other guys, though. Fred’s involvement doesn’t change anything. Seeing Moser leave to go to OU is incredibly frustrating. Pollard was so quick to hire his buddy he didn’t even consider anyone else. THAT’S the problem here.

Sean: Are you gonna make me repeat myself? Otz is the best fit regardless of who else is or was available! He can bring the Magic back! He’s gonna bring an exciting brand of basketball, we’re gonna shoot a ton of 3’s, and hopefully we will be right back to where we were at the top of the Big 12!

Ass: What if we need a change in play style? Clearly what Prohm has been doing hasn’t been working. What if we need to embrace a gritty, slow, defensive-minded game plan? Chris Beard literally just got offered a Godfather deal to bring that exact style to Texas. Porter Moser has made a ton of noise in the tournament doing that. Darian Devries, another possible candidate before his extension, did much of the same. Hilton Magic is predicated on getting the crowd going. Why aren’t defensive stops included in the same sentiment as a deep 3 or something else? They should be! Do you want to win games or shoot a lot of 3’s?

Sean: Both. I want to win and shoot 3’s. I’d even argue there’s a positive correlation between the two.

Ass: You know I didn’t do well in stats.

Sean: Neither did I. I am you, dummy.

Ass: Oh, right.

Sean: We’re getting off-topic.

Ass: Yes we are. Pollard had the stones to record two videos on the same day, one telling people that Prohm was fired, and the other saying TJ had been hired. All he had to do was wait another few days, call around to some other guys, and go through a formal process. Instead, we got the version of going to Prom with someone great and liking the friend that was in the same group. Now you want to take that friend to different dance and expect the same chemistry you had with your original date!

Sean: You hated Prom. This is a dumb analogy.

Ass: You’re a dumb analogy.

Sean: Saying Pollard filmed those two videos on the same day is some aluminum foil hat level thinking. I’m comfortable with the TJ hire. I think Pollard had a plan as the season went downhill and stuck to it, regardless of outside noise. He was never going to call anyone else. I’m comfortable with the process if Pollard is.

Ass: Pollard needed to call around, take his time, and get the most qualified individual. I’m not sure Otz is that person. I hope he succeeds, and there is no doubt he can recruit, but Pollard not calling around and at least asking for the availability of Porter Moser or Dana Altman really bothers me. If this hire fails, Jamie will have some serious questions to answer.